Create external USB drive for WIn 7 64 Dell Laptop

#1
How do I make a copy of my HD bootable on a USB drive (60GB HDD)?
I have a Dell Inspiron M101Z and have just had the hard drive replaced, so need to restore my System (or spend days re-installing everything!!)
I can't restore to the disk I am running from, so need to boot from a separate USB drive containing the OS for the laptop (M/B drivers etc) and Drive snapshot, my backup software. I can then restore from the backup USB to the internal HD, driven by the USB I booted from.

the big issue is that this is a Dell, so the original system (boot) partition was not the first on the disk. Dell have a hidden partition first, (which you cant back up or copy!!!!!) followed by drive C:

The copy restored to the USB drive wont boot , and I think it's because it's set up to be the second partition on the drive but is actually the first on the clean USB drive.

in XP this was easy - I edited boot.ini to tell it it was now on partition zero and I thought this was the job BCD easy was supposed to be able to do for win7 (or replace MBR with one that will work for that setup).

In short I have a win7 installation on a USB drive, (single partition) with all the drivers for my laptop, and I want to make it bootable, so I can work on the internal drive whilst it is unmounted - how do I do that step by step??

(PS the USB drive is already set as active)
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#2
MS won't allow Vista/7 to boot from an external drive. (XP either, but that was hackable with difficulty).
What did you use to create the backup image ?
Partition managers normally have a bootable CD option you can use to restore your backup image to a new HDD on the dead PC.
 
#3
I used Drive Snapshot. It doesn't have any facility for a bootable CD built in. Is it possible to create something that would boot enough of windows to run Drive snapshot with the C drive dismounted?
Alternativly, to restore the Dell system I could take out the new drive they have fitted, attach it to my desktop and restore the image to it.
Looking closely at Dell's setup there is not boot system on the C: drive - they have a hidden partition the Easy BCD can see with the BCD on it, telling it to load windows from drive C: (the second partition) and somehow it knows that the second partition is C:
If I simply restore drive c: exactly as it was by dismantling and attaching the new drive to the desktop) that would cure the first part of the problem. when I put it backin it should run ok

However, whatI really want to do is to dispense with teh Dell setup and put in a new SSD with a "normal" single boot partition. I could create this by attaching to the desktop eSATA port and restoring the backup image, but said image would not have a boot sector. Will Easy BCD run on the desktop (XP SP3) in order to but a win7 boot configuration onto the drive I create?

Addendum:

Sorry misread the post - what kind of partition mamager did you mean? Is there one I could buy / download?
 
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Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#4
Since you have the desktop, that would seem to be your best option for restoring the laptop HDD.
There are many partition managers free and paid, but though you can obtain one easily
(Partition Wizard Bootable CD allows user to boot computer directly to manage partition.)
that's not a lot of use to you. They will each restore images that they created in the first place, but you need to use the same software you used to take the backup originally.
Don't worry about the Dell boot partition, that will contain your "factory reset" image plus a customized boot manager with all their other recovery options.
If your HDD hadn't expired, that would have been your built in route to recovery. Luckily you had a "belt and braces" image of your own to fall back on.
You might want to use another utility which does come with a bootable CD option to create a new backup image, though according to this
Drive Snapshot - create a DOS bootable disk
Drive snapshot can just be copied to any bootable DOS environment, so you might already have an old W98 or WME boot disc which would suffice.
The Dell boot partition doesn't "know" that partition 2 is "C".
The MBR just looks for the "active" partition in the partition table (Dell recovery), executes the code it finds in the boot sector ( Dell customized MS Vista/7 bootmgr) which reads the BCD and finds the UID of your Vista/7 partition, from where it loads the MS boot loader, which loads the kernel and drivers and eventually logs you on to the Windows desktop. Only then does "C" come into it. It's a virtual label for the partition stored in the Windows registry. It doesn't exist in the "real" world. When your PC is turned off, there are no letters associated with any partition.
You can use EasyBCD to "change boot partition" and copy all the necessary code and data to your W7 disk, but I'd advise you to leave it where it is if you don't want to lose all of the Dell custom boot options. Even if you regain that space, you cant extend W7 "backwards" into it easily, so you'd need to be desperate for a couple of extra Gb to consider giving yourself the aggravation.
 
#5
I'm not sure where I go from here! I think I need a step by step guide.....
I don't have a win 98 or win ME boot disk and if I did I'm not sure it would boot the laptop anyway - it states in the sales literature that the M101Z wont run anything ealier than xp. (So it may be time I started to use another backup system).

I have the full system drive restored to the new SSD, in a single partition ready to fit and go except it has no BCD, MBR, or anything - everything else is there, it would save days of work installing and configuring if I could get it to boot.

Although my HDD expired Dell have fitted a new one with bare windows on it (& I've added easy BCD) - So I have at my disposal a computer running WIN 7 (but nothing else) & new SSD drive that has everything I want except boot files, that can attach via USB for now. - can Easy BCD make the SSD bootable ready to fit into the laptop and go? (that would be perfect!!!)


Ps. sorry about the other post I'm not used to forums and how best to use them.

Addendum:

I also have a USB win7 installation image, (exactly the same as the Win 7 DVD but on usb) - which has the usual recovery tools that would have come on the Win 7 DVD. any help?

Addendum:

help is anyone there? the day is passing asn I wont be able to spend time o =n this till next week - another week scrabbling about with bits of paper that I have to type upp when I get back to the office before I lose them!!

Addendum:

help is anyone there? the day is passing asn I wont be able to spend time o =n this till next week - another week scrabbling about with bits of paper that I have to type upp when I get back to the office before I lose them!!

Addendum:

I really really reaaly do NOT want to preserve the Dell custom boot options - they are a b****dy headache!! partitons that only Dell Datasafe backup (paid version) can see, restoring to factory reset only etc.

what I want to do is create a new, sensible disk which has all it's boot infor on the bsame partitiona s windows asn the software, like any normal machine, that can be backed up a a full image and restored as a full image. If I can do that by restoring the previous Os drive to the SSD and ading the missing stuff that Dell put on thier hidden partiton that would be great - if not I'll rebuild from scartch next week (take a couple of days off - it takes that by the time I have installed everything, looked up activation codes, set preferences etc)

the istructions for BCD easy are confusing. it tell how to put a boot sector onto a disk mouted externally, but warns very severly not to do this to a sytem disk - does this mean don't do it to a disk that will be a sytem disk or soe it mean beware in case you alter your setup to try to boot from and external??
 
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Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#6
Put the SSD in your desktop and use EasyBCD to copy the boot files
Changing the Boot Partition - EasyBCD - NeoSmart Technologies Wiki
This is a copy not a move so it won't change the way your desktop boots.
It's intended to be used within a PC but if you just remove the SSD and put it back in the laptop it should boot there.
 
#7
Teh desktop is XP only, but will this work if I attach the ssd to another windows 7 laptop via usb?

Addendum:

added it to the other laptop - it came up as drive E:
so selected bcd backup/repair, change boot drive, drive e: and it ran, but still no joy - just the flashing cursor on the laptop when the drive is installed

the report reads:
there is one entry in the windows bootloader
path e:\boot\BCD

default windows 7
timeout skipped
easyBCD boot device e:\

entry #1
name:windows 7
bcdID (default)
drive c:\
bootloader path :\windows\system32\winload.exe
 
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Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#8
I don't know whether EasyBCD will write the MBR if the drive is attached via USB ?

Note to CG - Query above
 
#9
tried putting it back and using teh windows install DVD (well USB actaully) -
chose repair, dos and followed what I read in another post
Windows 7 Repair Disk > Command Prompt:

diskpart
list disk
select disk 0
list partition
select partition (# that you want to use)
active
exit
exit

Went back in to Command Prompt:

bootrec.exe /fixmbr
bootrec.exe /fixboot
bootrex.exe /rebuildbcd
*it will ask you to add it, hit "y"
exit
restart computer and you should be good to go!

Did that and it reported the first two steps as sucessful and the third it replied that it could not find a windows operating system to rebuild from !??

I can see the boot and BCD files, and winloader where it should be when it's mounted externally.
Windows recovery can see the drive and write to it so it's not a problem of needing to load drivers (although every time i plug it into something new it says it's loading drivers for the "new hardware")
where would MBR show up if it was there?

Addendum:

tried putting it back and using teh windows install DVD (well USB actaully) -
chose repair, dos and followed what I read in another post
Windows 7 Repair Disk > Command Prompt:

diskpart
list disk
select disk 0
list partition
select partition (# that you want to use)
active
exit
exit

Went back in to Command Prompt:

bootrec.exe /fixmbr
bootrec.exe /fixboot
bootrex.exe /rebuildbcd
*it will ask you to add it, hit "y"
exit
restart computer and you should be good to go!

Did that and it reported the first two steps as sucessful and the third it replied that it could not find a windows operating system to rebuild from !??

Addendum:

I notice looking in the windows boot directory that there are four directories, and lots of stuff about EFI - si this all part of how dell set the thing up with a separate partition?

Addendum:

FINALLY SORTED!
nothing would persaude it to boot, so tried the vertex site and they mentioned in forums that partition offset cna be a problem (don't actually understand what that is, but i ahd made this partition under XP and copied the disc image to it.
Tried a fresh install of Win 7 from a pure copy (not Dell's they warn it may include drivers not compatible with SSD), but allowed it to use the existing partition - same problem - black screen, blinking cursor.
tried again this itme deleting the partition and it installed fine (still installing now).

In other words I could have saved myself two days (one of which I was supposed to be doing other work!) if I hadn't bothered to try to save time by restoring the original image!!!

thanks for all the help anyway, but it looks as if I created the problem when I created the partition in XP
 
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Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#10
Congratulations.
That's the gambler's disease, "I'll just try one more bet to recoup my losses"
I once spent 3 weeks trying to fix Vista when eventually it only took an hour to give up and reinstall it, though to be honest it was more a refusal to accept that it should be broken in the first place since it was on a 100% healthy HDD and hadn't been used in weeks since its previous uneventfully successful normal boot.
If it had been important to me, I'd have abandoned the effort a lot sooner, but since W7, it's just been an also-ran option on the PC, so fixing it became more of an intellectual struggle against the illogicality of the fact that it could have crashed while inactive.
Happy booting.
 

mqudsi

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
#11
Terry: EasyBCD *should* write the MBR to the drive regardless of how its attached; I cannot say that I've tested this particular scenario myself, though.